Classification & Labelling

What is the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulation?

The EU CLP regulation ensures that any potential health or environmental hazards presented by chemicals, or formulations containing chemicals, are clearly communicated through harmonised classification and labelling (C&L) standards.

The CLP regulation entered into force in 2009, replacing previous regulations covering substances and preparations, and requires companies to appropriately classify, label and package their substances and mixtures before placing them on the market. It aims to protect workers, consumers and the environment, and promote safe handling and use, through consistent product labelling that clearly reflects a product or substance’s potential hazards.

Under the CLP regulation manufacturers/importers of chemical substances in the EU are obliged to gather relevant and available information on all hazardous properties according to certain health and environmental criteria. These hazards are then addressed in Safety Data Sheets (along with guidance on safe use) for industrial users as well as on product labelling using standard statements and pictograms.

The C&L provisions of the CLP regulation also align with many of the corresponding provisions of the United Nations Globally Harmonized System (UN/GHS) for classification and labelling of chemicals.

How does the CLP regulation impact the surfactant industry?

Surfactants (and mixtures containing surfactants) are found in a wide range of industrial uses and consumer products and since amendments to the CLP criteria introduced in 2011 many required updates to their classifications for human health (HH) and environmental (ENV) hazards.

In addressing this requirement, the industry’s aim is to make the communication of hazards clear and transparent while avoiding confusion in the market as a result of the use of different classification and labelling by individual producers of the same type of products.

Achieving this requires a single, harmonised approach to C&L. Considering the vast number of different types of surfactants being produced, and the diversity of the end-uses, this presents a significant challenge.

What is CESIO’s role?

As the main stakeholder representing the interests of the EU surfactants industry CESIO’s aim is to develop harmonized human and environmental classifications for surfactants under the CLP and UN criteria that are based on agreed scientific principles.

To achieve this CESIO has a dedicated CLP working group within its Technical and Regulatory Affairs Committee. This group is responsible for collecting all relevant human health and environmental information from CESIO member companies, assessing the data based on scientific principles and reaching agreement on a final, harmonized C&L. The group is also responsible for documenting the information (e.g. substance identity, hazard data, C&L) in a transparent and user-friendly format that is accessible to all surfactant producers and regulators.

CESIO published the first C&L recommendations in the 1980s but regularly reviews and updates the information in response to amendments to the regulation by the EU Commission as in 2011 or when new, relevant information on hazards becomes known.

As CESIO members market their surfactants outside Europe, the CESIO C&L recommendations have also been aligned with the comprehensive C&L requirements of the UN/GHS system for many products.

The CESIO recommendations represent one of the widest and most comprehensively reviewed databases of reliable classification and labelling information for major volume and other important surfactants. Although not legally binding, they have been adopted by the large majority of surfactant producers, which use them to update their Safety Data Sheets and labels accordingly.

The recommendations have also been recognised by the EU Commission as best practice with regard to Responsible Care.